By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 15, 2009 at 9:41AM
Martin Scorsese rode into Cannes on Friday. He turned up at the American Pavilion to dedicate the Roger Ebert Conference Center. "Welcome back," fest delegate general Thierry Fremaux said to Ebert, who had been unable to attend for several years as he battled throat cancer. While he used a mechanical voice box at the ceremony, at the reception Ebert communicated with Scorsese, Fremaux, director Paul Cox, Sony Pictures Classics' Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, and critics Pierre Rissient and Kenneth Turan via writing pad. Ebert's blogging the fest and had seen just one film at Cannes so far, Bright Star.
In the evening, Scorsese introduced the ravishing new Technicolor print of Michael Powell's The Red Shoes, one of his favorite films of all time. And he also announced several new initiatives for the World Cinema Foundation, including deals with festival marketing site B-Side and the cinematheque website The Auteurs (which is hooked up with affiliate site Criterion). Here's Scorsese's statement:
‚ÄúThe World Cinema Foundation was created out of need. There are so many pictures in need of restoration and preservation, which, for many reasons, are not getting the attention they deserve. And restoring and preserving is only half the battle, because in order to be appreciated, they have to be seen. Now, they should be seen as they were intended to be seen, but audience awareness can build in surprising ways. Our new relationships with B-Side and The Auteurs are intended to build awareness on many different levels. These relationships will be crucial in drawing attention to the films and the people who made them, which are at the center of the Foundation's work. I'm very excited that Kent Jones, who I've known and worked with for years, has come aboard to lead the organization into the future.‚Äù
Earlier this week in Cannes, Mandalay added a movie about Frank Sinatra to Scorsese's list of upcoming projects. I find it hard to imagine any actor, whether or not it's Leonardo DiCaprio (who stars in Scorsese's fall release Shutter Island, based on Dennis Lehane's novel), being able to convincingly portray Sinatra and deliver songs with his voice. The guy's too big, too well-known, and his voice is too identified with his persona. As tough as it was for Will Smith to do Mohammed Ali, he wasn't a singer. Judy Davis did pull off Judy Garland, and Jamie Foxx and Joaquin Phoenix did Ray Charles and Johnny Cash. I don't know. It's Frank! UPDATE: Shawn Levy digs into the Sinatra casting issue.
[Poster photo courtesy firstshowing.net]